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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey active SAR folks.

Every so often I run across a reference to places that will train a SAR dog for you or sell one too you that is already "trained".

Anyone ever have experience seeing one of these dogs? In all my work in California, to the best of my knowledge (in SAR for nearly 2 years now), I have never run into a dog that was not trained by its handler and SAR group. One guy has sent his dog to a puppy raiser for the first year and that dog washed out of SAR... but I suspect it is the handler... lots of washed out dogs and has never achieving certification in the first place.

Just curious. I would not do it more because I think it is unnecessary and the bonding and team process is so important. To me, team work is so important I would not risk diluting that. I want to know where that dog has been in his/her training. I need to know that dog to work as their assistant. Each dog works differently. I also think that training your own dog demonstrates a commitment that the handler must have. I keep thinking that the handler commitment is so much more a factor. When the dog has the working capability, he/she will be committed. But the handler??? Handler commitment seems more of a variable as I watch people come and go.

Happy training this weekend if you are going out. I have to leave in 15 minutes!
 

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Some of the FEMA folks buy labs with a good bit of training through Maranatha Farm Kennels. I think they go from basic foundation to fully trained. I think you can hand off a trained SAR dog like you can hand off a trained police dog but, then of course, you still have to bond and finish out the training. Obviously you are going to have to certify because I know of no certification test that is good for just the dog; it must be the dog and the handler.

I personally know some of the folks who have done this and they are good handlers, some highly respected and well known. The web page does not even list some of the folks I know who have done this. [maybe they would rather not this be known.......]

Maranatha Farm Kennels-Retriever Training | Labrador Pups | Hunt Gun Dog Training | Breeding | Grooming | Day Care

I am beginning to work with and will keep (providing the x-rays are clear) a nearly fully trained air scent dog handled by a former teammate; I have only worked with this dog in the past as a subject to be found. A new job, a move, and life intervened and she would rather the dog work than live the more sedate life of a pet left alone during work hours--I have not done much with her (I got pneumonia a few weeks ago) other than bonding and some basic obedience but last weekend I took her to team training and did a simple problem and she remembered everything, came to me for the refind, and then wiggled and licked me like mad when we got back to the truck. i figure between my pneumonia and an upcoming heat for her, we should be able to get her ready by June. Basically, I need to learn the dog from the perspective of working her but I trained an air scent dog in the past (Cyra, who was ready to certify when we discovered severe dysplasia-and I washed her) and cadaver work (Grim, then Beau) is but another form of airscent work.

A former dog, Grim, was a demo dog for the guy who developed the K9-BSD. He had been trained on gunpowder and on pseudoscent corpse, so I had to "untrain" the gunpowder and just never trained with pseudo. Basically, I had a NAPWDA trainer evaluate him for me, then a USPCA trainer, took him, trained him (he had the foundations) and he was a great dog for me. My heart dog if there ever was one. VERY bonded to me actually within a week of owning him. The guy's other dog wanted to kill Grim and he felt the whole situation was entirely unsafe. [so Grim was, I guess, trained by me but it sure was easy]

Not training today :(. Have learned the hard way Rest means rest. with sore ribs and a hacking cough ...... sigh..........


So, I guess I would say....I think it is fine to buy a trained dog but if you do you should be an experienced handler because you learn so much by training the dog.
 

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I have a Maranatha lab. A P dog. My lab Phoster. She is amazing. Came to me at 15 months, certified at just over 2 and then recertified 3 years later. We have an amazing bond. Many of teammates have done the same thing and had the same results.

I think the most important thing is to find someone you trust who has proven results. And can give you support.

I learned a lot training my GSD for SAR. But it was different working a lab. And while my girl came "ready to FSA", I stil had a lot of work to do when I got her. I think that goes for every discipline, not just SAR.

And a good portion of the dogs on the FEMA teams in CA are from the Search Dog Foundation. A similar program.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I knew you would have thoughtful things to say! Thank you! Maranatha breeders look pretty amazing. Good to hear if I do end up staying in this.... I might think about a lab. Best to you both and thank you for the thoughts. Nancy, GET WELL SOON.

Went well today. Had to drive through Truckee, CA to get to the training site. Glad it wasn't there, -5 F! Was an inversion so the site was a balmy 26 F. We are tapering for testing... not saying more than that. I may go "dark" no until I'm done.

Best to you folks.
 

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Interesting. Is there a place like this for GSD or just the labs?
 

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Maranatha does Labs only. Used to take on GSD, Lena was there for a few months to try HRD, but now they stick to labs. The training styles are just so different.

I don't know of any kennel that does something similar for GSD. It would be cool though.
 

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I know Maranatha tried it with a litter of GSDs but I have never dealt with them before-just heard about them. I think some of Renee Utley's lab puppies went through them
 

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They have been extremely successful with many disciplines.

I think PennVet uses GSD and Mals and they have a dutchie as well. But they take on lots of breeds.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Yeah that is where I first heard of Maranatha, PennVet. gsdsar what does it mean a "P Dog". Saw reference on their site but no explanation. Is that a dog that they bred?

Nancy, I like what you said about how much you learn with a puppy. That maybe that is not the way to go, buying a started or trained dog, for the inexperienced handler. You got to go through it for sure.

P.S. I learned today... and actually last week too, that snow does funny things to cadaver scent. I don't see this as much with the live finds. But the cadaver scent stayed low on the snow and moved on, I presume, micro currents in the opposite way from the waist high scent. Just interesting.
 

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All dogs that Maranatha trains have names starting with "P". It's to honor June's first lab whose name started with P, it was a joke that became a tradition.

Some handlers change the names when they get the dog, but most keep the name or switch to another P name. My Phoster was originally Phlicker. Sounded too much like Flikka to me. So I changed it. But now they are affectionately called "P" dogs, even if they don't have a P name.
 

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P.S. I learned today... and actually last week too, that snow does funny things to cadaver scent. I don't see this as much with the live finds. But the cadaver scent stayed low on the snow and moved on, I presume, micro currents in the opposite way from the waist high scent. Just interesting.
We rarely get snow and I had some bones out for long term (wired them down) and worked them a day after the snow fell. What surprised me is how FAR the scent traveled under that snow.
 

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I think it takes a lot of time, mistakes, etc. to train your first dog. You learn a lot but really are not expert at it until you have trained several or helped others and learn how to deal with a wide variety of problems. I consider myself decent enough but not an expert starting on dog #4. I could see how someone could start out fresh with a trained dog and learn the ropes with a good mentor but they still need to learn how to train a dog at some point.

Once you are rolling as an operational handler it makes sense. Pups are always a gamble and you can go 2-3 years like I did then wind up with bad hips or some other problem. Of course there is always risk of serious injury as well. Started dogs are not cheap but neither is wasting a year or two and winding up with yet another pet.
 

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You make a good point. But I think there is a difference between a handler and a trainer. Plenty of MWD and LE get a trained dog. And do very good work.

They still have to keep up training and relationship building. But they are as effective.

I will say I did struggle a bit with my ego when I bought Phoster. In my head I had "downgraded" from trainer to handler.

But, my mind has changed. While yes, I got a trained dog. I did so to guarantee success. I have a finite amount of space and time. Did not have room if a dog washed out. And again, training is on going. She came with the basics. Then we both had to learn together how to trust and be a team and I trained her to new things, problems, scenarios.
 

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Makes sense, that was rolling in my head too. I guess the biggest thing I really had to learn as a new handler is how to read a dog and I am pretty comfortable reading other dogs now as well. That takes time and mentoring to "get" either way you go at it. The actual training of the dog is fairly simple and I think most of for the team is about exposure, experience, etc. endless scenarios. Perhaps more so with FEMA dogs who need more precise directional control etc.
 

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Good responses :)

I think Dutch brought up a very good point in that dedication on the handler's part is proven out in training their dog.. That isn't to say that an experienced handler that buys aa trained dog isn't dedicated, but a newbie buying a 'SAR' dog... Well, I would have reservations...

I do trailing (certified) , learning HRD and both dogs and myself are familiar and have done area but aren't certified in it. Trailing requires SOOOO much focus, reading the dog, TRUSTING the dog (at appropriate times) and knowing when to help.. That is learned from training with the dog and making mistakes.. Yes, a trained dog might help a newbie learn faster (maybe) or they will give the trained dog bad habits, lol - and they still have to learn to read that dog and build a bond and ultimately certify..

I guess I can just see some newbie thinking they can shorten the learning time (which in my opinion is invaluable) to get out on searches, or avoid the training necessary to go out of searches.

I can see the value of a trained dog for experienced handler's. Training never stops, but aging and time constraints can impede an experienced handler and keep them from the important skills they have being shared..

I'm definitely of mixed opinion... Experienced handler's yes, newbies, no..
 

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Reading the dog is just as important in HRD. I had a search where Beau was going up a tree and chose that to indicate but after working the area I felt it was a distance alert and reported it as such because he never went to source and using his body language and thorough coverage of the area I felt there was nothing close. It was borne out about a week later when the bodies were found about half a mile away from the area he indicated and in the direction I suggested based on prevailing wind.

Good article for anyone. My team made a live find on another search based on head pops from several trailing dogs which resulted in a targeted deployment of an air scent dog -- mapping and GPS very important!. Very good article. She presented it during a seminar.

http://emainehosting.com/mesard/pdf_documents/Distant Alerts.pdf
 

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That was a great article. We've dealt with heavy scent pools and had alerts given and head pops to the direction the subject ultimately was, but I can see the difference HRD and area search dogs would have compared to a trail dog.

Reading your dog in any discipline is important, but, and this is not to diminish the teamwork needed in area search - but I would say having finely tuned skills in reading your dog in trail and HRD is mandatory... With area, in general, you are griding and hopefully covering most of the area and can use your eyes as well (the live subject would likely be above ground).. Trail and HRD, you either are solely watching your dog for indications and alerts and the subject may be below ground (deceased)... All disciplines require tons of hours of work and cooperation...

Love reading those type of articles
 
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